As one of Spain's most historic cities, Pamplona has captured the imagination of many a visitor to Spain. The capital city of the region of Navarre, Pamplona is traditionally also seen as the capital of the Basque country and is thus a special place of interest for Basque nationalists. Steeped in ancient heritage, perhaps the most famous event in Pamplona's annual calendar is the San Fermin festival - an event during which the running of the bulls is the main attraction for visitors from around the world.
Celebrated every July, San Fermin has its roots in the medieval period as both a commercial fair and a secular fiesta. Its famous 'Encierro' - or running of the bulls - originated in the late fourteenth century, and remains the festival's most popular event today. It is said that at Pamplona, Saint Fermin met with his death by being dragged around the streets of the city by bulls - although some say that Saint Fermin was actually martyred at Amiens, France.
As the name suggests, ‘Encierro’ involves people running in front of bulls down a 825 metre stretch of cobbled streets in the older parts of Pamplona town. On the festival’s largest day, July 7th, the effigy of Saint Fermin is accompanied by thousands of festival participants, as dancers and entertainers gather along the streets. ‘Encierro’ itself begins with the release of two firecrackers - one to signal the freeing of the bulls from their corral and another once the last bull has been released.
The dangers posed by the running of the bulls are well-known. Since 1924, 15 people have been killed and over 200 have been seriously injured. However, many of these injuries have been due to inexperienced tourists taking dangerous risks when participating in the ‘Encierro’. But despite these dangers, the atmosphere in Pamplona during San Fermin is overwhelmingly celebratory. In literature, the mood of San Fermin has perhaps best been captured by the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who immortalised the festival in his novel ‘The Sun Also Rises’. In commemoration, Hemingway had a street in Pamplona named after him - Avenida de Hemingway - in order to show the city's appreciation for this great author.
Pamplona is just over two hours journey away from the city of Bilbao, so if you're thinking about travelling to Pamplona for the festival of San Fermin, you'll find frequent flights to Bilbao from London. Just make sure that your behaviour is responsible and careful in order to reduce the risk of being in the firing line during the running of the bulls.
About the Author - Andrew Regan is an online, freelance journalist.
Navarre is a region in northern Spain that is bordered to the north by France, the Basque Country to the west, La Rioja to the south, and Aragon to the east. Similar to other regions of Spain, Navarre has its own parliament and government and is responsible for its regional education, health, employment, housing and environmental policies.
Navarre is a cultural mix of the Basque influence from the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains and Mediterranean influences coming from the Ebro River. The Ebro valley is fertile and rich in nutrients making it amenable for growing wheat, vegetables, wine and olive trees. The river eventually leads to the Parc Natural del Delta del Ebro south of Catalonia on the Costa Blanca and offers some of the best carp and cat fishing to be found anywhere in Europe.
Pamplona capital of Navarre Pamplona became the region's capital city in the 10th century and it is now home to a third of the region’s population. Pamplona has played a central role in Navarre history having been founded by the Romans, occupied by the Moors and briefly the domination of Charlemagne.
Pamplona is a prosperous and modern city with wide boulevards and spacious parks. It is also listed as having one of the best standards of living in Spain. Pamplona is well urbanised with good road access and has some excellent historical buildings making it a pleasant tourist destination, especially in the old quarter, with it's cobbled streets. Pamplona is also the location for the world-famous Fiesta de San Fermín and the early morning 'Encierros' (Running of the Bulls).
Fiesta de San Fermin (6th -14th July) The festival of San Fermín is a deeply rooted celebration held within the city of Pamplona. The event is known locally as Sanfermines, held in honour of Saint Fermin who is the patron saint of Pamplona and the Navarre region. It is probably the most internationally renowned festival in Spain having been central to the plot of Ernest Hemingway's book 'The Sun Also Rises'.
The most famous event of the fiesta is the 'Encierro' or Running of the Bulls. Thousands of participants take their life in their hands by running in front of, alongside or preferably behind 12 or so mature bulls with sharpened horns along a half-mile stretch of cobbled streets in the old town. The event is not without risk and since 1924, 15 people have died. During the festival, the whole town is alive with party events, with celebrations spilling out from the bars and restaurants throughout the day.
The south Navarre is typically warm and arid with a landscape typical to that of Castilla & Leon. To the north though are the Pyrenees Mountains, where the weather is cooler with much greater precipitation. This has resulted in a greener landscape with vast forests and varied undergrowth that support a wide range of fauna and flora. For walking and hiking holidays, there are two large National Parks to be found here, the Parque Natural de Urbasa y Andía and the Parque Natural del Señorio de Bértiz.
About the Author - Steve Greenwood invites you to visit Navarre Holiday Apartments for accommodation and holiday attractions in Pamplona and Navarre.
Did you know that Spain is the largest country in Europe after France but with just over 40,400,000 people, it is one the least densely populated!
Did you know that over 1.2 million foreigners have chosen to settle and buy properties in Spain, which attracts more than 52 million visitors each year!
Did you know that 640,000 new homes were built in 2004, a higher number than Germany, France and Italy combined. Predictions show that another 2 million homes will have to be built over the next 6 years to meet the demand for Spanish property!
It is not simply Flamenco or Bull Fighting or the San Fermin Festival or lots and lots of bright sunshine that is attracting more and more tourists and tempting people to settle in Spain from around the world.
Even if we ignore that Spain, for last thousand years or so, is the cultural center of the Europe, she has much more to offer to the world’s citizens, many of whom are looking for Spanish villas for sale.
The local Spanish developers had something different in their mind, the majority of the apartments or properties are bought for the good financial returns a buoyant market returns.
There are around 2,750,0000 empty flats around the country and most of them are not even for rent. Owing to this problem, a good number of Spaniards are not finding homes to live in though construction is one of largest employment sector there.
Never the less, the situation is changing. The government is trying to fix this problem by clamping down on planning permissions, although these measures for reform only started recently this will serve to build a financially secured Spain in future.
Currently those who invested in the past have largely disappeared and the houses and flats are now being owned by overseas clients and Spaniards who are buying them as relocation properties or holiday homes.
In any case the situation for foreign buyers is as lucrative as it is precarious. The Spanish property business, like any other business in any corner of the world, has attracted a number of middlemen, who, unfortunately, are as always eager make a fast ‘buck’ with prospective buyers. Experience has shown that when a person is trying to buy some property from a broker he or she runs the risk of overpaying and even fake buying. It is not always possible for an outsider to know the full history of these agents and we should not forget the old saying ‘seeing is believing’.
The Spanish property market changes frequently, before buying property in Spain a cautious buyer should primarily try to gather all relevant information regarding the property and the-then market scenario. A good place for research is always the internet where there are plenty of good helpful sites on buying property in Spain.
About the Author - Joe Ogden is a freelance writer having years of first hand experience in Spanish property related business.